Canon PowerShot SX50 HS review

January 19, 2013

Overall Rating:


  • Metering:
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  • Noise/resolution:
  • Features:
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  • Autofocus:



Price as Reviewed:


Canon’s PowerShot SX50 HS bridge camera offers a whopping 1,200mm stabilised zoom lens, but is it a bridge too far? Read the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS review...

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Noise, resolution and sensitivity

These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured with the lens set to 100mm and f/5.6. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution at the specified sensitivity setting.

With the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS covering such a wide focal range, there is the obvious risk of compromised image quality. We shot our resolution charts with the lens set to 100mm and f/5.6, and at ISO 100 the camera reaches the 22 marker in raw format. While sharper results can be expected in raw format, this performance still does not quite match up to its SX40 HS predecessor, which reached the 24 marker at ISO 100 in JPEG format. This difference is marginal, though, and for some photographers it will be a price worth paying for the longer reach. Unlike its predecessor, the SX50 HS has an ISO 6400 setting, where it resolves up to the 16 marker on our charts. Overall, this performance is respectable without being outstanding. I’m not surprised by the results, though, given the camera’s wide zoom range.

Detail is compromised at higher ISO settings, mostly due to luminance noise, which is present at ISO 400 when viewing images at 100%. At and below this ISO setting, though, luminance noise is acceptable, appearing more grain-like. Above this setting, at around ISO 1600, the crispness of detail is lost and noise is less uniform. Noise reduction applied to JPEG files is rather modest compared to other systems, which thankfully means detail is less mushy than I would expect. Also, changes to levels applied to JPEGs creates images with strong and pleasing contrast. Usually I would recommend shooting in raw format, but the difference between an edited raw file and a JPEG is not quite as obvious here as I have seen in other systems.

As for lens distortions, there is the expected barrel distortion at the wide 24mm focal length through to around 50mm. Edge detail at these focal lengths is stretched a little and not as crisp as the centre of the frame. In unedited raw files, chromatic aberrations are very well controlled. It is only in areas of strong contrast, such as a building edge in front of a white sky, that some fringing can be seen, but I am impressed by how well these distortions are controlled.

Image: These two pictures have been recorded at the camera’s widest and longest focal length settings, 24mm (left) and 1,200mm (right shot). Barrel distortion is obvious in the wide setting, while at the telephoto setting it has been possible to achieve a sharp result 

  • Metering System: Evaluative (linked to face detection AF), centreweighted, spot
  • Dimensions: 122.5 x 87.3 x 105.5mm
  • Focusing Modes: Single, continuous, tracking AF, manual
  • ISO: 80-6400
  • RRP: £449
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1/3 steps
  • Connectivity / Interface: Mini HDMI, digital/video out, remote
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Drive Mode: Single, self-timer 2secs, 10secs or custom, continuous up to 2.2fps or High Speed Burst HQ at 10fps
  • Shutter Speeds: Up to 15-1/2000sec
  • AF array: Flexizone AF (multi), individually selectable single-point, AF tracking, face detection
  • File Format: JPEG, raw, JPEG+raw
  • Lens: Canon 4.3-215mm (24-1,200mm equivalent) f/3.4-6.5
  • Power: NB-10L rechargeable Li-Ion
  • Weight: 595g (including battery and card)
  • Exposure Modes: Auto, PASM, custom 1 and 2, sports, video, 9 scenes and 10 creative filters
  • Focal Length Mag: 4.92x
  • Sensor: 12.1-million-effective-pixel, 1/2.3in, back-illuminated CMOS (6.17 x 4.55mm)
  • AF Points: Flexizone AF (multi), individually selectable single-point, AF tracking, face detection
  • LCD: 2.8in, 461,000-dot, articulated
  • Output Size: 4000 x 3000 pixels
  • Viewfinder Type: 202,000-dot EVF
  • Memory Card: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Built-in Flash: Yes
  • White Balance: Auto, 6 presets and two custom
  • External mic: No
  • Video: Full 1080p HD (24fps), 720p (30fps), slow motion, H.264 MOV video with stereo sound
  • Tested as: Bridge camera

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